Alexander McCall Smith, the man behind Precious Ramotzwe and the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, talks to Danuta Kean about Africa, inspiration and the importance of intuition
Monica Ali did not intend to produce her new novel Alentejo Blue. The acclaimed author of Brick Lane had quite another book in mind when she sat down to write the follow-up to her stunning debut.
When Kate Mosse first sat down to write her third novel, Labyrinth, she knew it would be about the Grail legend, the mysterious source of a thousand quests since King Arthur’s legendary knights rode out in the Middle Ages.
If two years ago you saw Lauren St John looking bemused in a London street, don’t worry. The journalist and biographer had seen something to inspire her: a little girl riding a white giraffe.
Alan Gibbons laughs. It is a big, unselfconscious guffaw: the laugh of a man who feels like the luckiest man alive, thanks to a job that takes him into a place many would fear to tread – the minds of teenagers
Lesley Lokko is good at taking advice. If she had not been, the Ghanaian-raised architect turned bestselling author would not have scored such a huge hit with her first book, which has sold more than 100,000 copies in the UK. Frustrated by the constraints of architecture and academia, Lokko read
Read the full article →
Rory Bremner tells Danuta Kean why New Labour is like cappuccino and he had to write You Are Here with John Bird and John Fortune
Like Jack, there is no front about him, just a genuine enthusiasm for life as “one of the luckiest men on earth” able to indulge his passion for history and gift for writing by creating a vivid world of blood and battles, bad girls and blackguards that leaps off the page
The book pulls back the net curtains to reveal the naked rage we English try to disguise with everything from jokes and gardening to animals and alcohol. It is as surprising and touching as it is amusing and splenetic – as one would expect from one of Britain’s leading cultural commentators.
“It has always occurred to me that what writers approaching their 50s should do is just disappear and try and become someone else,”
Storytelling saved Sally Gardner, the bright and passionate author of the novel I, Coriander. As a child she was bumped from school to school, at one point ending up at an institution for maladjusted children straight out of Dickens because neither her teachers nor parents could understand why such a clever girl, with an obvious love of books and words, could not read. It was the 1960s and she was dyslexic, a condition that had yet to be recognised.
DI John Rebus does not always see the softer side of Scotland, which is why his creator crime writer Ian Rankin wanted to show his the place is not all murder and mystery in Rebus’s Scotland, he tells Danuta Kean.
After this, The Office and the sitcom Hardware, is he worried about being typecast as “The Everyman”, an expression he uses himself. “I only use it because other fuckers keep saying it, you know what I mean?” he jokes.
Gerald Scarfe, whose needle sharp caricatures have burst many an inflated ego, learned a valuable lesson early in his career about portraits and propaganda. The experience bears fruit this autumn in a book that has already created headlines in the gossip columns.
The hardest thing faced by Hollywood actor Ewan McGregor about his forthcoming road trip with best buddie and fellow actor Charley Boorman, will be getting off his BMW motorbike and taking a cup of tea. But it is vital they do, says Boorman, not least because the trip will make very dull reading otherwise.